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Vegan Chickpea 'Meatballs'

 An easy recipe for the most glorious, vegan 'meatballs' made with chickpeas. For the ultimate meal, serve them tumbled in fresh tomato marinara sauce with spaghetti or for a hearty lunch on a sub.

Vegan Chickpea 'Meatballs' in Marinara Sauce

VEGAN CHICKPEA 'MEATBALLS'

These easy vegan 'meatballs' are made with chickpeas, rice and spices and you are going to love them.

They are quick to make and super tasty.

I made them for the first time on Friday and I've thought about them constantly since. I'm so obsessed with them, I'm going to make them again for dinner tonight.

They are crisp on the outside and soft inside. They do fall apart a little while you are eating your spaghetti, but that just gives more yumminess in each bite.

I just can't explain how lush these were.

I do hope you make them soon to see why I'm so infatuated with them.


A bowl of cooked chickpeas

CHICKPEAS


The star of the show is the chickpeas.

They add texture and flavour to these meat-free 'meatballs' as well as adding a good portion of protein to your meal and lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Chickpeas really are the good guys in a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Personally I could eat them like sweets, especially the big creamy ones.

I have to hold my hands up and say I buy tinned  (canned) chickpeas (from the world food aisle, they are so much better quality and cheaper), which are great quality and convenient rather than soaking dried chickpeas. 

I know, I know, it's cheaper to use dried pulses, but I'm just not organised enough. I'm a lot better these days and plan my meals for the week, but soaking beans is a step too far for me. Maybe one day.


An overhead shot of an open packet of microwave basmati rice

COOKED RICE

The other main ingredient in these vegan 'meatballs' is rice.

I usually use either breadcrumbs or oats when I make 'meatballs' or beanballs as I often call them, but this time I thought I would try rice.

The rice has to be pre-cooked.

If you're making rice the night before, just make extra, cool it quickly and chill to make these the following day.

If not you could cook a small batch of rice or do what I do and use a shortcut. Microwave rice.

Microwave rice is already pre-cooked until al dente (with bite) and all you're really doing when you microwave it for 2 minutes is heat it up.

It's actually a really speedy shortcut ingredient for adding to dishes.

I used basmati rice, but you could use wholegrain rice or pilau rice instead.


Homemade marinara sauce in a large bowl with a blue rim

MARINARA SAUCE

Another important element to making the best vegan 'meatballs' is the sauce.

For me it has to a fresh marinara sauce

A thick sauce, with that rich tomato flavour that clings to the 'meatballs in the most luxurious way.

You can use other tomato sauces or a creamy Swedish sauce like the one on Ikea meatballs. The Swedish sauce is usually a combination of cream, soy sauce and mustard.


Vegan chickpea 'meatballs' on a baking sheet

WHAT DO YOU USE INSTEAD OF EGG TO BIND VEGAN MEATBALLS?

I use peanut butter as a binder in my vegan meatballs, but you could use any nut butter. You don't really taste it but it gives a good bind.

If you have a nut allergy, try using vegan cream cheese or mayo.


WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE VEGAN 'MEATBALLS'

  • olive oil
  • onion
  • garlc
  • cooked chickpeas
  • cooked rice
  • peanut butter
  • soy sauce
  • paprika
  • chilli flakes
  • ground cumin
  • salt and pepper


WHY ARE VEGAN CHICKPEA 'MEATBALLS' SO GOOD?


  1. They taste great.
  2. They are easy to make.
  3. They are cheap to make.
  4. They are crispy on the outside, but soft inside.
  5. They are super healthy. They include protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  6. They are very versatile. You can serve them in lots of dishes for lunch and dinner.
  7. They can be cooked in a grill pan with a spray of oil or baked.
  8. They are a kid-friendly option.
  9. They make a meal more filling.
  10. They are vegan!

Vegan chickpea 'meatballs' in marinara sauce in a shallow cast iron casserole pot

HOW TO COOK VEGAN 'MEATBALLS'

  1. SHALLOW FRY - Fry plant-based meatballs in a little oil in a grill pan or frying pan until browned and crisp on the outside.
  2. BAKE - Bake them on a baking sheet in the oven until crisp.
  3. AIR FRY - Fry them in an air fryer for a crispy finish.
  4. DEEP FRY - The least healthy option but this gives the most crispy finish.

HOW TO SERVE VEGAN 'MEATBALLS'

Vegan 'meatballs' don't have to be served with pasta, although that is a tasty option. Here are a few ideas.

  1. SPAGHETTI - A pairing made in heaven. Coat them in marinara sauce.
  2. SUB - Serve them in marinara sauce on a sub roll for a filling lunch.
  3. MASHED POTATOES - They are great served in marinara sauce with mashed potatoes and green veg.
  4. PITTA - Served plain (no sauce) on a pitta with salad leaves, cucumber, grated carrot and hummus.
  5. SANDWICH - On wholemeal bread plain (no sauce), cut in half served with mustard, fried onions and burger relish.
  6. WRAP - In a flour tortilla with salsa and salad.
  7. RICE - With rice, vegetables and a sweet and sour sauce.
  8. ZOODLES - Serve them with zucchini (courgette) noodles and marinara sauce.
  9. PIZZA - You've probably seen vegan pizza with falafel. Why not try vegan meatballs instead?
  10. IKEA STYLE - Serve them idea style with a creamy sauce alongside potatoes, green beans and lingonberry jam.

uncooked vegan meatballs on a baking sheet

HOW LONG CAN I KEEP VEGAN 'MEATBALLS' IN THE FRIDGE?

You can keep cooked and cooled vegan meatballs in the fridge for 4-5 days in an airtight container.

Remove them from the pan to cool.


CAN I FREEZE VEGAN 'MEATBALLS'?

Vegan meatballs freeze well.

For best results, freeze vegan meatballs before they are cooked.

Flash freeze them on a baking sheet, then move to a freezer bag, then you can just take out just what you need.

You can bake them from frozen or defrost in the fridge overnight and cook in a frying pan or grill pan with a little oil.


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easy chickpea meatballs

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Chickpea meatballs sitting in a tomato sauce


HOW TO MAKE VEGAN CHICKPEA MEATBALLS

Scroll down for step-by-step photos followed by a full printable recipe. If you don't have a printer, hit the print button, then choose save as PDF.

Step 1 - sliced onions in a shallow casserole pan

STEP 1

Saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil in a large pan.


Step 2 - cook onions until soft

STEP 2

Saute the onion until golden and soft. If the onion catches on the bottom of the pan, just add a splash of water and that will remove any caramelisation from the bottom of the pan, which is full of flavour.


Step 3 - Blender

STEP 3

Add the cooked onions to the bowl of a food processor or jug of a blender. We are going to blend the ingredients into a coarse pate texture.


Step 4 - cooked chickpeas, spices and peanut butter added to the food processor

STEP 4


Add the cooked chickpeas, peanut butter (or alternative, see above) and spices to a food processor or blender.


Step 5 - blended mixture

STEP 5

Blend to a coarse pate texure.


Step 6 - 'meatball' mixture in mixing bowl

STEP 6

Move the meatball mixture to a large mixing bowl.


Step 7 - rice added to bowl

STEP 7

Add cooked rice to the bowl. You can cook rice fresh for the dish, use leftovers or a pouch of microwave rice.


Step 8 - rolled meatballs

STEP 8

Roll 'meatballs'. A generous tablespoon is about the correct amount.


Step 9 - meatballs cooking in grill pan

STEP 9

Cook the 'meatballs. They can be shallow fried in a little oil in a grill pan or frying pan, baked or crisped up in an air fryer.


Step 10 - cooked, browned 'meatballs'

STEP 10


Which ever way you choose to cook them, cook until browned and crisp. You can use tongs to turn them as the cook and re-shape them if they need it. Don't worry if they are a wee bit out of shape, it's part of their rustic charm.



Step 11 - marinara sauce added to pan with meatballs

STEP 11 (optional)


Add the cooked 'meatballs' to a pan with a simple marinara sauce or other tomato sauce.



Step 12 - warmed meatballs in sauce

STEP 12 (optional)


Gently warm the 'meatballs' in the sauce, then serve over cooked spaghetti. Go on, you know you want to! Enjoy!




meatballs, vegan meatballs, dairy-free meatballs, vegetarian meatballs, chickpea meatballs, beanballs
dinner
American, vegan
Yield: 4
Author: Jacqueline Meldrum
Print
Vegan Chickpea 'Meatballs'

Vegan Chickpea 'Meatballs'

An easy recipe for the most glorious, vegan 'meatballs' made with chickpeas. For the ultimate meal, serve them tumbled in fresh tomato marinara sauce with spaghetti or for a hearty lunch on a sub.
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 25 Min

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g/ 14 oz tin chickpeas (240g/8.5 oz drained weight)
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (or vegan mayo)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (mildly spicy, you may add more)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 200g/7 oz/1 cup cooked rice

Instructions

  1. Saute the onion and garlic in a pan until soft and golden. If the mixture catches on the bottom of the pan, add a splash of water.
  2. Transfer the onions to the bowl of a food processor or the jug of a blender along with the cooked chickpeas.
  3. Add the peanut butter and the spices and whizz to a coarse pate texture.
  4. Scoop the mixture into a mixing bowl then add the rice and mix well.
  5. Roll into balls and either fry in a little oil in a grill pan or frying pan; bake in the oven or crisp up in an air frier until golden brown and crisp. Turning as necessary. A pair of tongs are useful for turning and reshaping if needed.
  6. Serve with marinara sauce over cooked spaghetti and top with grated vegan parmesan.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes:

You can keep cooked and cooled vegan meatballs in the fridge for 4-5 days in an airtight container.


Vegan meatballs freeze well (for 3-4 months).


For best results, freeze vegan meatballs before they are cooked. Flash freeze them on a baking sheet, then move to a freezer bag, then you can just take out just what you need. You can bake them from frozen or defrost in the fridge overnight and cook in a frying pan or grill pan with a little oil.


You can use more chilli if you'd like them spicy. This recipe is mildly spiced.

Calories

323.38

Fat (grams)

10.31

Sat. Fat (grams)

1.58

Carbs (grams)

46.94

Fiber (grams)

8.88

Net carbs

38.06

Sugar (grams)

6.55

Protein (grams)

12.77

Sodium (milligrams)

269.44

Cholesterol (grams)

0.13
Created using The Recipes Generator

27 comments

  1. These would be great for Meat Free Monday! Can't wait to try the recipe :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, perfect if you are trying to eat more veggie meals

      Delete
  2. Oh I have to try these. I really like your kidney bean meatballs. Jill

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are softer, but utterly delicious. I think you'll both like them Jill

      Delete
  3. These vegan 'meatballs' look so hearty and filling. Perfect food for this time of year!

    ReplyDelete
  4. When people say Meatless Meatballs, they don't sound appetizing... But, yours were so so good!! I can't believe it's chickpeas!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Chickpeas are so tasty and versatile so I love this idea of crispy outside and soft in the middle. Delicious and filling too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, they work so well in vegan meatballs. Full of protein too.

      Delete
  6. I usually buy frozen meatless meatballs and make the sauce myself, but I am going to try your recipe this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ph yes do try it and let me know how you think they compare.

      Delete
  7. I bet noone will be able to tell that these meatballs are vegan - that's how good they look! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. These look lush! Just the sort of thing we love for dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Aren't chickpeas amazing? One of nature's most versatile food gifts. Great looking recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh they really are. So many recipes to make with them.

      Delete
  10. I've been looking for meat alternative dishes so I'm glad I found your chickpea meatballs! They look absolutely delicious! I can't wait to try them with some pasta and homemade sauce!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I will have to give these a try.

    ReplyDelete
  12. These look delicious!! Never craved a vegan meatball before - but now I do!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi I am going to make these, we are not vegetarian but love vegtables. Gave up on the Facebook page people just wanted veg food that tasted like meat. I want vegtables. Will let you know how it goes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes a lot of people do. Most of my recipes are vegetable based but I do use meat-free mince and Linda McCartney sausages but then I have been using them for 30 years now.

      I'm not really interested in seitan or jackfruit made to appear like pulled pork however.

      I hope you enjoy the chickpea meatballs. We loved them so much we've had them twice in one week.

      Delete
  14. I am not so much into vegan cooking. That sounds like a great dish, though, and I already want to try it. SO I saved it for later. I only have to convince my wife because she is not so much into chickpeas. I hope you are doing fine!
    Many greetings, Chris!

    ReplyDelete

I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x